Fashion Flashback:
CHANEL 1991

For this new segment, we take a look at some of the most iconic eras and trends in fashion. For our second trend, we look back at Karl Lagerfeld iconic 1991 Chanel collection, as seen by the French journalist and film director, Loïc Prigent.

           —By Luisa Tarantino

Iconic French journalist and film director/documentarian Loic Prigent is a giant in the fashion reporting world, having written for publications Vogue Paris and Vanity Fair and directed and produced a number of important fashion documentaries, such as Signed by Chanel (2005) and The Legacy of Alexander McQueen (2015), among his many other contributions in the journalistic and film world. He also continues to entertain through his social media accounts – on his Youtube channel and Instagram page, he shares backstage footage, designer, celebrity and model interviews, runway videos, informative fashion videos, and much more. On Instagram, he likewise shares funny quotes heard behind the scenes and backstage during fashion shows.

 

In his short documentary La Brigade du Stup’: Chanel 1991 – Stupéfiant!, Prigent details Karl Lagerfeld’s genius and why Chanel’s 1991 Fall/Winter collection was one of the house’s most iconic collections, having chosen this specific collection as being one of the most influential among Lagerfeld’s 187 runway shows.

 

At this point, this collection represents Karl Lagerfeld doing what he wants, moving away from Gabrielle Chanel’s legacy, down to the mise en scène of the runway show itself. From the casually dressed photographers flanking the ‘front row’ of the show to the models strutting with a smile and a twirl down the runway (at one point, Elsa Schiaparelli stirs a spoon in the top of her teacup-shaped hat), to black models rocking their natural hair and the first ever instance of a Chanel model wearing Chanel jeans (yes, jeans), to model Helena Christensen ‘scandalously’ removing her trench to reveal a see-through top and black underwear and a Josephine Baker inspired golden belt, the Chanel 1991 Collection and runway was not only fun, youthful, and trendy, but it played with and broke the house’s and past runway conventions in ways that were risqué, cheeky and new (like using the House’s iconic Camellia roses as nipple covers, just to cite yet another example).

chanel 1991 collection

chanel 1991 collection

The iconic Chanel Camellia roses used as nipple covers

The runway show, as expected, made the news. Part of Lagerfeld’s genius was exactly this: knowing that to the media, this show was a subject that absolutely had to to be covered. The ‘over the top’ styling was another aspect to behold – a bright combination of some of Lagerfeld’s iconic codes reimagined, such as a fluorescent pink Chanel Tweed jacket, the gloves, the pearls, the golden chain sewed into the jacket, Chanel’s best selling handbag recreated in denim – elements that as Lagerfeld understood were the formula to “create looks.” The show was simply legendary: it was innovative, provocative, and bold. As we revisit the collection today, we recognize it’s timelessness – the pieces and the outfits would be worn exactly as is even today.

chanel 1991 collection

The Fluorescent Pink take on the Classic Chanel Tweed

 

See Prigent’s full doc below (available only in French). Visit the Stupéfiant website here for more fashion coverage.

See our past instalments of Fashion Flashback here.

Written on: May 23, 2020